We all know the benefits of dark chocolate, as heralded by health advocates. But did you know that a majority of dark chocolate that is produced today isn't as nutritious as it could be? No thanks to modern processing and manufacturing, a lot of the antioxidant content of dark chocolate is replaced by added sugar and fat.
You may have heard about the benefits of cacao, too, which is chocolate in its unprocessed form. In Central and South America (where cacao tree originated), it is considered “the food of the gods”. Cacao pods are harvested, opened, dried and fermented over a few weeks, and the end product are the raw cacao beans. Typically, these raw cacao beans are processed through roasting, which reduces their antioxidant content. The end product of this process is cocoa, which is the base for regular chocolate, which is cocoa, sugar and fat.
Cacoa: The good chocolate
The raw, non-roasted cacao beans are the healthiest kind of chocolate. They contain beneficial minerals like sulfur and magnesium, as well as flavinoids which have immune-boosting benefits. Thanks to the phenylethylamine content, eating raw cacao nibs can speed up metabolism, enhance neural activity and boost our mood while helping us to stay mentally alert. That's because cacao releases dopamine and norepinephrine (the "feel-good" hormones).
The magnesium content of raw cacao helps maintain optimal muscle and nerve function. It is also rich in iron, which helps with anemia, and relieves constipation. The high phytonutrient content is anti-aging and cancer-preventive.
One of the best benefits of raw cacao is heart health. Studies have shown that it can lower blood pressure and help with insulin resistance. In short: Eat it to prevent stress and also potential heart attacks.
Raw cacao contains chemical properties that stimulate the brain to release phenylethylamine. This adrenal-related chemical triggers emotions, releasing feelings of euphoria, excitement and mental clarity. It also contains the lipid anandamide, which helps our brains achieve that feeling of happiness.
So the next time you crave chocolate, you know what to choose. #CacaoRocks!
Raw Bites Recommends: CoCoa Raw Chocolate
Made from organic cocoa, CoCoa's range of raw chocolate is sweetened using coconut sugar, and combined with nuts and fruits. They are vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free. Get these nutrient-bursting goodies in your Raw Bites box! (Click here to order your box right now.)